Worship in Faith

February 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 2 Comments
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Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

The doctrine of faith as the doorway to salvation did not originate in the New Testament.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11

However, the New Testament clearly refutes the false belief that keeping God’s law can save.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38

So, what about after salvation? We are saved through faith, but how do we please God after He saves us?

Faith is the means of salvation because God has declared that by faith will man be justified. “The just” are those whom God, by His grace, has declared righteous, and who, therefore, have a perfect standing before Him in Christ Jesus. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t – it put Habakkuk right into a spirit of worship. How I wish that modern Christians didn’t have such a tendency to surrender their brains to their feelings in worship!

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2

Dear Lord, the basis for our worship is Your Word. We fear You, Lord. Your Word has convicted us where we stand – and we admit it. We want a revival – not of wordly “success” – but Your work. Even if not right now, but in the midst of years – in Your time. We trust You – we even trust Your wrath. We call on You to remember mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of Who You are. Keep Your promises, O God. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Confronting the Issue of Law and Gospel to Its Face

May 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Galatians | 3 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 2 references the Jerusalem Council that was documented in Acts 15. The main issue there was whether Christians had to be circumcised in adherence to Judaism before they could truly be considered Christians. Paul was very agitated about this because he had been going all around the country preaching salvation by grace through faith. That is the true Gospel, but the Jews had a hard time with this because of the emphasis which Judaism placed on separation from the gentiles. Furthermore, Peter had eaten with gentiles at Antioch, and then had withdrawn from their company when Jewish elders arrived.

The Judaizers who were trying to dilute the Gospel were “false brethren” motivated by Satan. They wanted to add works to faith. At the Council, Peter, John, and James all came squarely down on the “right side:” Christianity is one Spirit, one Salvation, one Savior, one Body. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

After Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation, several years later some of the Reformers would use these “solas” to describe what they believed: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). These doctrines refuted the Roman Catholic tradition of faith-plus-works which was an error similar to that of the Judaizers in Paul’s day.

Paul’s argument used his ministry partner Titus as Exhibit 1. Titus was a gentile, he was uncircumcised, and he was a true Christian

But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Galatians 2:3-4

Galatians 2:6-10 are very uncharacteristic of the Holy Spirit’s writing through Paul. It is a passage which may be contrasted against Ephesians 1 where Paul goes on for 14 verses without a period, because he can’t stop praising God for how great salvation is. In Galatians 2:6-10 his frustration and anger made it so that the translators had to use parentheses because he can hardly stop interrupting himself! And much of this anger and frustration was caused by Peter.

But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Galatians 2:11

Peter should have known better.

But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Galatians 2:14

He seems to be saying, “You, Peter, are a Jew, and you know better than anyone that the Law can’t be kept in your own strength. How are you going to say we have to make the gentiles keep the Law?”

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

Galatians 2:15

Paul and Peter had been born into families that had trained them since infancy to avoid sin.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Galatians 2:16

Those who understand the Gospel have the Truth – freedom in Christ Jesus – which is the only real freedom and the only salvation. No one was ever saved by doing works of the Law. Going all the way back to Abel, who was declared righteous by faith, on to those who participated in the sacrifices of the Old Covenant given through Moses, only those who reached into the future by faith and touched the Cross were saved. It is as if Paul were saying, “We must not now, even if it offends all our sensibilities, lead men to believe that the keeping of the Law is the means of salvation.” Note the “instrumental dative” in the Greek for the word “of” in Galatians 2:16. Even “our” faith (which should be demonstrated by works) is not sufficient. We would fall from grace if not for the faith of Christ.

Ignoring the Obvious

March 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Romans | 5 Comments
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An overview of the middle chapters of the Book of Romans can seem like a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. In Chapter 7 the Apostle Paul is a “wretched man.” In Chapter 8 he is “more than a conqueror.” Then, in Chapter 9:

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Romans 9:2-3

Why did he have great heaviness and continual sorrowing in his heart? Why could he wish himself accursed from Christ? Because of his kinsmen.

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit used Paul to show that it was the Jewish people, not God, who were to blame for their rejection of His Messiah.

1. God is faithful: He kept His covenants with the Jews. He chose them as the people through whom He would bless the world and through whom the Messiah would come. Even when they tried to circumvent His plans, He honored His covenants.

2. God is righteous: The people who seem to have been chosen by God for dishonor are the ones who have willfully refused to acknowledge Him or repent.

3. God is just: The clay can not question the wisdom of the potter, nor can it claim that it wouldn’t have fitted itself for destruction if God had given it “free will.”

4. God is gracious: A sinner is never in a position to demand what he deserves.

The Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah were given specifically to the Jewish people. All these prophecies pointed to Jesus. The law which God gave to the Israelites was designed to be their schoolmaster to teach them the way to Christ. Christ came unto His Own people and they received Him not – they rejected Him.

Why would they reject Him? Because they didn’t believe they needed to be saved. Their attitude was, “Saved from what?” This was mirrored in Paul’s life. Before he was converted he believed the Gentiles were at enmity with God, but not the Jewish people. The Israelites believed they needed political salvation from Rome, but not spiritual salvation from their own sin – even though they were zealous for God.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2

They had banished idolatry in the temple and even forbidden Gentiles from entering the temple, but their “knowledge” wasn’t real knowledge. They were proud and self-righteous.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:3, emphasis added

“Establish” means to set down a foundation and make it secure. But the Jewish people had rejected the Cornerstone – the Head of the Corner. They had “set Him at nought.” They didn’t understand their own law. Paul cites Moses (from Deuteronomy 30:11-14) to show that the righteousness of the Law was meant to point the way to salvation. But those written commands were meant to have an effect on the heart. What is in the heart comes out of the mouth. What comes out of the mouth is the “word.”

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

Romans 10:6-7

Is keeping the Law of God difficult? No, it’s not difficult – it’s impossible for everyone but Christ Himself. For a human being it would be like using our own physical abilities to go up to Heaven to find Christ – or to go down into the grave, the land of the dead, to find Him. It can’t be done.

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Romans 10:8

The word of salvation was right there – in the heart – in the mouth – and that word was and is “faith.”

It’s Just Faith

July 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Eternity, Habakkuk, Romans, Salvation | 22 Comments
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If you have no real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you have never received Him as your Savior, you are in a dangerous and deadly condition. According to the Bible, when God considers your eternal soul, lifted up before Him, it is not “upright.” In other words, you are not right before God, and you may not stand before Him and live.

How can this situation be rectified? What can you do to escape from eternal death, and receive eternal life? All praise to God, He has made a way! This way is called by some “justification.” Justification is the way that God makes the unrighteous righteous before Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

But what is the means by which you can receive this gift from God? Must you work for it? Must you pay for it? Can you inherit it from your earthly parents? Will men grant it to you if you join an organization or perform some rite of initiation? By no means! The only way to be justified before God Almighty is through faith.

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

Do you want to live? I mean live eternally? If so, you must transfer your faith from whatever it is currently in, and place it entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He paid the price for your sins on the Cross of Calvary, and that He died and rose again.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:5


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